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McNay Art Museum presents Abstract painting in summer exhibition Beauty Reigns

SAN ANTONIO, TX.- Beauty Reigns: A Baroque Sensibility in Recent Painting features the work of thirteen intergenerational emerging and mid-career abstract painters, working in studios across the United States. The exhibition is organized by René Paul Barilleaux, the McNay’s Chief Curator/Curator of Art after 1945, and celebrates the exoticism, exuberance, and optimism found in the artists’ work. 

Among the shared characteristics found in this highly diverse group, in whole or part, are high-key color, layering of surface imagery, use of overall and repeated patterns, stylized motifs, fragmented representation, and a tension between melancholy and the sublime. 

The exhibition surveys works by artists with both national and international perspectives. Americans Annette Davidek, Nancy Lorenz, and Ryan McGinness are based in New York. Charles Burwell lives and works in Pennsylvania; Paul Henry Ramirez in New Jersey; Rex Ray in California; Rosalyn Schwartz in Illinois; and Susan Chrysler White in Iowa. Global visual vocabularies are expressed in works by Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.), born in Venezuela and based in Florida; Kamrooz Aram, Iran/New York; Jiha Moon, South Korea/Georgia; Fausto Fernandez, born in Texas, raised in Mexico, and currently based in California; and Beatriz Milhazes, a Brazilian native who continues to live and work in her home country. 

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated book of the same name that includes essays by Lilly Wei, a New York-based independent curator, critic, and editor at ARTnews; and Stephen Westfall, a painter, writer, and professor living in Brooklyn. Wei and Westfall also contribute regularly to Art in America. Their essays contextualize the various artists’ approaches to abstract painting, tracing their roots in 20th- and 21st-century art. Biographical and interpretative texts on each of the artists are authored by Barilleaux. The book, Beauty Reigns, reflects the dynamic nature of the exhibition in its visual aesthetic, expands the imagery seen in the museum, and offers a larger window into the work of these artists and their individual approaches to painting. 

“Beauty Reigns: A Baroque Sensibility in Recent Painting confirms the vitality of abstract painting today,” Barilleaux said. “This exhibition requires that the viewer travel to and voyage through visual territory that seems somewhat foreign, or somewhat familiar, yet always rewarding.” 

Beauty Reigns: A Baroque Sensibility in Recent Painting is on view at the McNay until August 17, 2014. The exhibition then travels to the Akron Art Museum in Ohio, where it will be on view January 24, 2014-May 3, 2015.